Contact Governor Bullock Today

Dirty Coal and Water Bills Headed to his Desk Need to be Vetoed

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While a number of this session’s anti-environment bills were defeated due the efforts of MEIC and its allies, several “dirty coal” and dirty water bills have cleared the Legislature and now await action by Gov. Steve Bullock. Only his veto can stop these bills from becoming law.

We need you to e-mail, write, or call the governor TODAY, and ask him to veto these attacks on Montana’s clean air, clean water, and the global climate!

With your help MEIC has met with success in stopping some anti-environment bills from reaching the governor. Together we were able to defeat (or amend to be innocuous):

  • a bill that would have severely penalized any company that wanted to close a coal-fired power plant (e.g., Colstrip).
  • an extreme “takings” bill
  • a bill that would have defined creosote and arsenic covered logs as renewable resources for the purpose of meeting Montana’s Renewable Energy Standard.
  • bills that would have weakened protections against asbestos and fine particulate air pollution.
  • bills that would have greatly weakened sensible land use regulations.
  • bills that would have weakened your right to participate in government decision-making and your access to the courts.

However, several bad coal and water bills have moved forward. Please take the time today to contact Governor Bullock, and request that he veto ALL the bills listed below.

There is an online contact form for each bill listed below. Or you can telephone and leave a message for the governor at 444-3111.

While all of the bills deserve a veto, they are listed in order of priority for his vetoes.


Contact Governor Bullock on SB 325

This petition is now closed.

End date: May 03, 2015

Signatures collected: 244

244 signatures

SB 325 – Reducing Water Quality Protections for Downstream Users, Sen. Jim Keane (D-Butte)

SB 325 would remove protections for downstream water users, such as irrigators, by overturning a regulation that was adopted by the State Board of Environmental Review after years of hard work. The regulation survived a court challenge and was vigorously and successfully defended by the State. This bill would put downstream water users at risk for pollution from upstream sources, such as Arch Coal’s Otter Creek mine. As initially passed by the Senate, the bill contained specific protections for downstream water users from new upstream water discharges that could threaten the quality of their water supply. Unfortunately, the House removed these protections.

The bill also contains contradictory provisions that are unclear at best and could lead to water degradation at worst. The natural condition of any stream can vary over the course of seasons and years. During periods when the water quality is good, downstream water users may make use of the water. Conversely, when flows are low and natural concentrations of harmful contaminants (particularly salts) are higher, downstream water users cannot use the water. Both conditions may be natural. It is unclear which of those “natural” condition will become the standard, the one that protects downstream users in all seasons or the one that allows upstream dischargers to pollute and put downstream users at risk.

Water quality protections should not be unclear in the law. This bill should be vetoed so the downstream water users can continue to be protected from new upstream pollution discharges.

MEIC’s Position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Headed to Governor

Official Legislative Site


Contact Governor Bullock on HB 421

This petition is now closed.

End date: May 03, 2015

Signatures collected: 152

152 signatures

HB 421 – Providing a Tax Break to One Coal Mine, Rep. Tom Berry (R-Roundup)

This bill would needlessly extend the termination date of the coal severance tax coal washing credit. It which would cost the State over $1.5 million per year in lost revenue and reduce local revenues by $400,000. This bill would benefit only the Signal Peak coal mine in the Bull Mountains, which uses a washing process that already makes its coal more valuable. The Signal Peak coal mine exports the majority of the coal it produces to Asia, where they receive a higher dollar per ton for the coal. Originally, this tax break was provided to Signal Peak as a temporary measure, but now the coal industry is pushing for it to become nearly permanent.

MEIC’s Position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Headed to Governor

Official Legislative Site


Contact Governor Bullock on HB 244

This petition is now closed.

End date: May 03, 2015

Signatures collected: 152

152 signatures

HB 244 – Creating an Attorney General’s Slush Fund for Coal Terminal Litigation, Rep. Jeff Essmann (R-Billings)

This bill would create a $1,000,000 slush fund for Montana’s attorney general Tim Fox to use in initiating litigation against the States of Oregon and Washington in support of coal export terminals. Currently there are several proposals to build coal export terminals in those states, which would be used to ship Montana coal to Asia. These ports are extremely unpopular with residents in Oregon and Washington, and along the railroad lines along the way because of the myriad environmental impacts of exporting and burning coal.

MEIC’s Position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Headed to Governor

Official Legislative Site


Contact Governor Bullock on SB 387

This petition is now closed.

End date: May 07, 2015

Signatures collected: 149

149 signatures

SB 387 – Reducing Fines for Water Quality Violations, Sen. Cary Smith (R-Billings)

This bill would limit the penalty amount that the Department of Environmental Quality can fine an entity that violates water quality laws. Currently DEQ has discretion to charge up to $10,000 per day OR $100,000 total. This bill would limit it to $500 per day, with no more than $5,000 per violation that directly harm public health or the environment.

DEQ already has the  discretion to reduce penalties and does so on a regular basis. This bill would allow polluters to claim that failing to file required reports on time doesn’t directly or potentially cause harm. These reports, however, are often the only evidence DEQ has to determine if environmental harm has occurred. Sometimes polluters need a disincentive to pollute. Larger potential fines do just that.

MEIC’s Position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Headed to Governor

Official Legislative Site


Contact Governor Bullock on SB 112

This petition is now closed.

End date: May 03, 2015

Signatures collected: 140

140 signatures

SB 112 – Fast-tracking Water Quality Standards for Impaired Streams, Sen. Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip)

This bill would require DEQ to complete a total maximum daily load (TMDL) analysis for an impaired water body within 180 days of a company applying for a permit to discharge into that water body. TMDLs usually take 2-3 years to complete.

TMDLs are essentially pollution cleanup and control plans. TMDLs take years to develop because DEQ must consider historic flows and pollutant levels in a stream over the course of time, as well as work with existing water users to determine the best way to decrease pollution in the water body. This bill forces DEQ to issue a pollution plan before the proper analysis can be completed.

MEIC’s Position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Headed to Governor

Official Legislative Site


Contact Governor Bullock on SB 160

This petition is now closed.

End date: May 03, 2015

Signatures collected: 146

146 signatures

SB 160 – Reducing Water Quality Protections, Sen. Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip)

This bill would weaken water quality standards by defining “natural” conditions as including all human activities. The definition of natural is critical in determining water quality protection standards, and reducing pollution levels in Montana’s rivers and streams. By including human activities, water quality will be reduced.

This provision violates the federal Clean Water Act, putting Montana DEQ in the tenuous position of either ignoring State law and complying with the federal one, or implementing the State law and violating the federal one.

The more fundamental point is that natural conditions should never be defined to include human sources of pollution.

MEIC’s Position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Headed to Governor

Official Legislative Site